The Writer Within Us All - A Thank You To Author Bill Myers
June 24, 2014
I remember it like it was yesterday.
I was sitting in a wide auditorium with my entire elementary school trying not to listen to an author talk about two of the worst words in the English language: reading and writing. At the time, those words were right next to “home work” and “no ice cream before dinner.”
Looking back on it, I was a fool. Of course ice cream before dinner was a bad idea. But there were far more important lessons to be learned. Lessons I did not realize until I was well acclimated to my adult life.
What was it that always made me detest the idea of reading and writing? What is it that relegates an ever increasing amount of adults to hating reading and writing each year? And why the heck can't I eat ice cream before dinner?
Best selling author and award winning film maker Bill Myers was the man that graced the stage all those years ago. And, worst of all, he was funny. Likeable. But I hated writing, I hated reading and so I hated Bill Myers. He listed countless reasons why every single one of us in the crowd had a writer inside us. I believe he was even cruel enough to make us write them down as he asked us questions. I was so calloused to the thought that when he asked, “do you prefer sharp pencils when taking a test?” that I convinced myself I would rather take an exam with a dull crayon.
And what am I today? No, besides a hypocrite. That's right, a writer and aspiring author closing in on the completion of my first book.
What I didn't realize as that sixth grader, and for most of my adult life, was the magic that lives within the world of words. Sure, back in the day, writing was tolerable if heavily medicated I guess. And if the electricity went out. But that was only as long as I could write about flat characters drinking from endless beer fountains while in the glory years of college.
Reading. Was. Awful.
But, the inescapable fact I've realized is that you can't read anything without writing your own story, your own life experiences, expectations and characters into the piece as you go. That's the lens through which readers interpret everything. So how much greater is writing? Being the one in the driver's seat that navigates the entire universe of that work?
I've always enjoyed sports. Growing up, I loved playing basketball, because, more often than not, I was better than most of the other kids. I could be as creative as I wanted in ways to score and get to the basket. The older I got, the more I saw this in all competition. NBA players and professional athletes talk about how, the better they get, the more creative they are on their field of play. But, what I've learned over the past few years is that the creativity I felt in sports was trumped a hundred times over by the potential creativity within writing, because one's imagination in the literary field isn't confined by gravity or the laws of the universe. Here, imagination is boundless.
When I used to look at a page, all my eyes saw were words. Words surrounded by hundreds of other words. I saw a two hundred page, long division equation I would never solve. Today, when I look at a book, I see creativity at its finest. I see the one thing I've always wanted; me inside a world were literally anything can happen. I become a child again with a ceaseless imagination, sitting at a camp fire listening to ghost stories and tales of glory, but this time, as that child, I see reading and writing for what it is; a gift. I fall in love with that gift every week, and, on my death bed, we'll still be in the honeymoon phase.
Nevertheless, so many adults have a hard time separating themselves from that other stubborn kid inside that says, “Books? Books are work. Reading is dull.” Its even reported that the worst subject in college for Bill Myers, my fateful elementary lecturer, was writing. And that, at one point in his life, he told God he would do anything for Him... except write. Well, sometimes the irony of life is thicker than that of fiction. And, writer or not, the older I get, I can't help but see that I am a round character and that the blessing of growth is real. I've chosen to embrace it. There is nothing in this world like the freedom that comes with writing and its given me the key to a world where anything is possible. A world where there are no rules. Perhaps even a world where I can't help but admit that Bill Myers is kind of a nice guy.
And even one where ice cream before dinner is actually a phenomenal idea.